Moral Of The Week: News Cannot Be Contained
That’s what authorities in Egypt are finding out, as they shut down ISPs and mobile network providers.
Egyptians with dial-up modems get no Internet connection when they call into their local ISP, but calling an international number to reach a modem in another country gives them a connection to the outside world.
We Rebuild is looking to expand those dial-up options. It has set up a dial-up phone number in Sweden and is compiling a list of other numbers Egyptians can call. It is distributing information about its activities on a Wiki page.
The international dial-up numbers only work for people with access to a telephone modem and an international calling service, however. So although mobile networks have been suspended in some areas, people have posted instructions about how others can use their mobile phones as dial-up modems.
Egyptians also seem worried about Mubarak’s government snooping on their web use:
The few Egyptians able to access the Internet through Noor, the one functioning ISP, are taking steps to ensure their online activities are not being logged. Shortly before Internet access was cut off, the Tor Project said it saw a big spike in Egyptian visitors looking to download its Web browsing software, which is designed to let people surf the Web anonymously.
“We thought we were under denial-of-service attack,” said Andrew Lewman, the project’s executive director. The site was getting up to 3,000 requests per second, the vast majority of them from Egypt, he said. “Since then we’ve seen a quadrupling of Tor clients connecting from Noor over the past 24 hours,” he said.
No computer at all? No problem!
Even with no Internet, people have found ways to get messages out on Twitter. On Friday someone had set up a Twitter account where they posted messages that they had received via telephone calls from Egypt. A typicalmessage reads: “Live Phonecall: streets mostly quiet in Dokki, no police in sight. Lots of police trucks seen at Sheraton.”
Others are using fax machines to get information into Egypt about possible ways to communicate. They are distributing fax machine numbers for universities and embassies and asking people to send faxes to those numbers with instructions about how to use a mobile phone as a dial-up modem.
Moral of the story? You can’t keep bad news bottled up. Inventive people will find a way, especially with all the choices available these days.